It was the first time I killed a man, but let’s be honest, it’s not like I had another choice. I was minding my business, content to simply go about my new life. He’s the one who had to come flying out of my past to disrupt my present.
For the last 16 years I’d been Mike James, and I loved it. Mike is a simply guy, a guy of small pleasures and no pressures. He works as an auto mechanic, makes decent money, goes to the occasional happy hour with his coworkers, and has a pretty nice little apartment. I love being Mike.
I’d spent the first 30 years of my life being Anthony Howard…and I didn’t enjoy it at all. My family had money. Not CRAZY money, but money. If we’d had more money, maybe things would have been a bit different, I could have been raised as the idle rich, but no, it was expected that I would work my butt off on behalf of the family to continue to raise our income. We had an image to maintain, and it was my job to help maintain it.
I had my first ulcer at 23.
At no point in my life do I remember anybody ever asking what I wanted to be when I grew up, they wouldn’t have cared anyway. My destiny was spoken for, I would go into business. When I went to college I was overwhelmed by all the options suddenly available to me….well…I say “available”…. I was overwhelmed by all the choices everyone else was getting to make. I once met a girl who was majoring in History. HISTORY! This charming young lady had decided to dedicate her life to studying the past, and nobody was going to stop her.
I hope nobody stopped her.
But my path was spoken for. I got my MBA, with as few extra-circulars as I could manage, heaven forbid I get a broader education, I might find something I wanted to do. And I began my job working for the family business.
Would you believe my family even picked my wife for me? Nice enough girl I suppose, but we always felt like two strangers forced to share a house. A kid didn’t fix that. Nothing could fix that.
And then came September 11th. Now I know it was a national tragedy, really, so many innocent people died that day, but at least one life was created that day, the life of Mike James.
I was supposed to be in the first tower early that morning, but I wasn’t. In a rare bout of insanity I decided to just show up late, I would grab a sandwich downtown, have some coffee, read a paper. I had decided that for 2 hours this day I would do whatever I wanted, and just be another face in the crowd.
And then IT happened.
It didn’t occur to me right away, no, what kind of madman would I have to be where this was my first thought? But eventually it occurred to me that everyone I knew would assume I was in that building, right where I was supposed to be. And I could go anywhere else, and BE anyone else.
I found myself a nice little small town in the middle of nowhere, found an old auto-shop in need of a helping hand, and BAM! Mike James was born.
16 years of doing just as I darn well pleased. It wasn’t a fancy life, but it didn’t need to be, I’d had fancy, I was ready for something smaller. I was aiming for contentment, and I landed smack dab in the middle of it.
And then Carl showed up. Of all the small towns for him to cut through on his little business trips. Of all the places for his car to break down. I had hoped at first he wouldn’t recognize me, but he did. I could tell as the blood drained from his face.
My cousin Carl had just seen a ghost, and it was me.
Luckily I was alone in the shop at the time, before he could say anything, before he could pull out his phone and ruin my world, I was on him. Mechanics have access to some pretty heavy wrenches, and his head caved in with a soft sound.
Then I just crammed him in his own trunk, fixed his car, and waited until night time when I could drive it into Lake Camapek. Sure, they’d probably find his car quick enough, but if I was lucky the water would wash away any evidence. Besides, even if it doesn’t, all the evidence will do is point to a man who died 16 years ago.
It was the first time I had killed a man, but it was surprisingly easy…hmmmm……
Unlike my two books (“The Great Platypus Caper” and “The Coconut Monkey Horror”) I can not promise that each entry in my 642 things to write about series will be true stories drawn from my life, I’ll leave the amount of truth in each entry up to your imagination.
Want to stretch your writing muscles as well? Post your response to the writing prompt in the comments section. I’d love to see it.